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Showing posts from August 28, 2005
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The Blood of Jesus (film #506 on Feature Films). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]This religious all-black cast film from the 40s tells the story of Martha Ann Jackson, a young married woman with a no-good husband. Soon after she gets saved and baptized, she is fatally injured in an accident with her husband’s hunting rifle. Her soul is taken away by an angel, but at the last minute, God decides it’s not her time yet and lets her go back to the land of the living. There the devil sends his envoy, Judas Green, to lure her to the big city with fancy clothes. There, she goes nightclubbing and a friend of Judas’ offers her a “job,” but once she finds out what the “job” involves, she runs off to return to the straight and narrow path. Unfortunately, she is mistaken for another female “employee” who’s a pickpocket, resulting in many of the nightclub’s patrons taking off after her. At the point between Zion and Hell, she is confronted by the devil, but fortunately, having been saved, she has…
Cockfight (film #6 on The Movies Begin, Volume One: The Great Train Robbery and Other Primary Works (Kino Video, 1994). Also, film #6 on The Art of Cinema Begins (Video Yesteryear, 1997)). [Category: Early Film & TV]This is one of the more visually striking of the early films. There's something mesmerizing about the slowed-down movements of the fighting roosters. The guys in the background are kind of creepy, though. An 1896 Edison film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Elderly Pedestrians (film #22 in the Public Info. Films section of TVArk). [Category: Public Service]Somewhat overdramatic British PSA warning drivers to be extra careful about not hitting elderly pedestrians. It ends up being effective, though, as it attempts to explain the difficulty such people have with crossing the street, and you end up empathizing with its main character.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
The Adventures of Diavo & Joe – Episode VII (film #229 in the Action section of Brickfilms. Also, film #322 in the Comedy section of Brickfilms. Also, film #69 in the Action section of Brickfilms. Also, film #105 in the Sci-Fi section of Brickfilms). [Category: Outtakes & Obscurities]Two geeky Lego guys discover a portal that leads into the Star Wars universe, or the Lego version of the Star Wars universe, anyway. There they have some confusing adventures while exchanging witty bon mots. The animation is somewhat blocky, but some of the special effects are nice. But I have to admit I had a hard time following this.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
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California (film #112 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: News]Light-hearted newsreel clip from the 50s honoring the 20th anniversary of the first transpacific flight of the China Clipper. This is followed by a breezy story about summer fashions and a cute story about a children’s zoo. Must have been a slow news day. This does have a real 50s feel to it, being a slice of the optimism of that time.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Allied Convoy Battles Axis (film #47 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]British newsreel footage about a Allied ships battling Axis planes. Lots of big guns and explosions in this. Also, another story about British royalty touring Scotland, inspecting a fire brigade and a daycare center. A British slice of life from World War II.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Color It Clean (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #348 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This film, made by the University of Illinois at Urbana, is a tribute to the janitors who clean up the bathrooms every evening. The film shows one janitor carefully and meticulously cleaning every surface of the men’s room he’s assigned to, while several janitors speak on the soundtrack about the challenges of the job and how they try to do the best job they can. This is done so sincerely and realistically that only the most callous among us could find anything funny about it. Hey, it’s not a job I’d care to do, so my respect for janitors has gone up several notches, meaning this film is quite successful in its purpose. This is a quite unusual film that gives you a real sense of what a particular job in a particular place and time was like, giving it a great deal of historical value as well.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: **…
Combat Bulletin No. 32 (film #2 on tape #5 of This Film Is Restricted (Marathon Music & Video, 1997)). [Category: Military & Propaganda]In "Activities in the European Theatre of Operations," we get a rundown on the deactivation of various landmines. This footage is quite interesting, though a little hard to watch when you think about how these are real live mines they're handling. In "Vosges Mountain Front," Nazi soldiers are flushed out of various villages. In "Snapshooting Course for Jungle Fighters," we see soldiers learning to shoot at anything that moves in the jungle. In "Italian Front,” we see more slogging through the mud. And "Fighting in Warsaw Suburbs" features quite violent scenes of street fighting. A fairly standard Combat Bulletin with some interesting moments.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Billion Dollar Limited (film #31 on Feature Films). [Category: Hollywood]In this Fleischer Superman cartoon, Superman must save a runaway train full of gold bullion from some bad guys who are doing their level best to rob it. Lois Lane is in the thick of things, as usual, but this time she gets to take some pot shots at the bad guys with a machine gun, as well as trying to stop the train by pulling the emergency brake. Superman eventually saves the day by manually pulling the cars full of gold to the mint––I guess if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. As usual, the graphic design is beautiful. I’m not a superhero fan, but I must say these Fleischer Supermans are impressive.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
Fashion Horizons (film #506 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Hollywood]Several Hollywood starlets take a bright and breezy vacation in the southwest, while a bright and breezy narrator breezily describes their trip to us, describing every outfit each woman wears in great detail and occasionally throwing in a plug for TWA. Somebody should have shot the writer, though, because there's a fine line between breezy and stupid, and the film's narration repeatedly crosses that line, especially when dealing with native Americans ("One little, two little, three little Indian girls!" exclaims the narrator over a shot of three grown native American women), ancient historical relics ("Her adobe coat blends in with the adobe walls of this ancient structure"), or scenic wonders ("Doggone it! What adjectives are there to describe this magnificent view of the Grand Canyon?"). The visuals provide some historical value, as they provide rare color scenes of 1941, bu…
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Boys Diving, Honolulu (film #17 on America at Work, America at Leisure. Also in the Historical section of Open Video Project). [Category: Early Film & TV]Some boys dive into the ocean from a wooden spit that sticks out over the water, in a thoroughly unsafe but probably very fun way that would never be allowed today. Hey, you kids get down from there! You’ll break your necks! A 1902 Biograph film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
ABC Afterschool Special Promo (film #84 on ToonTracker Cartoon Showcase). [Category: Commercial]Artistically-animated end-of-season promo for "ABC Afterschool Specials" during the 70s. This is pleasant to look at, but pretty much what you’d expect.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Anti-War Demonstrators Storm Pentagon (film #61 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Sleaze & Outsider]Newsreel story documenting a huge protest and sit-in in Washington DC against the Vietnam War. The smarmy comment by the narrator at the end of the segment that the demonstration proved “everyone a loser” shows the mainstream attitudes towards the anti-war movement at that time. An important document of the 60s protest movement. Tacked on the end is a dull story about a German airplane.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Driving in Fog (film #19 in the Public Info. Films section of TVArk). [Category: Public Service]Clever and well-made British PSA warning drivers of the dangers of driving in fog by likening it to a child’s game of Blind Man’s Bluff. Effective.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: N/A. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
The Adventures of Batman (film #70 on ToonTracker Cartoon Showcase). [Category: Ouutakes & Obscurities]Opening to the 60s Saturday morning cartoon version of “Batman.” Pretty cheesy, though there are some amusing lines, such as “Bane of Gotham’s kooky criminals!”
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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Baby Boom (film #4 in the 1950s: Blast from the Past section of WPA Film Library). [Category: News]Breezy newsreel clip about the high 50s birthrate, featuring a cool display that automatically kept track of the US population––definitely an item for the Film Ephemera Museum of Quirky Devices. Beyond that, this contains the typical footage of crying newborns.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
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All Nations Shaken by War Crisis (film #46 on Universal Newsreels). [Category: Military & Propaganda]Jumbled, fragmented newsreel clip from the early days of World War II. Included are scenes of FDR and other government bigwigs meeting to discuss the crisis, French bigwigs meeting in France to discuss the crisis, Neville Chamberlain smiling while British royalty attend displays of Scottish games and dancing and the commonfolk prepare for war, masses of soldiers goosestepping in Germany, Mussolini rousing the Italian masses, Russia displaying military might, and German troops rolling through the streets of Czechoslovakia. The soundtrack is only in tiny, sparse fragments, with the rest lost, I guess. This makes the footage pretty confusing, but the period being documented is so historic that it has value anyway.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ***.
Can Animals Think? (film #3 on Those Naughty Animals DVD (A/V Geeks)). [Category: Educational]Various simple animal behavior experiments are performed while a rather silly narrator gives his views of what these animals may be thinking. This appears to be made by the same people responsible for Ant City and Bee City, only this film is a lot more low-key and less manic than those two others. I like it better this way. It results in a film that’s mildly weird and mildly amusing.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.
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Color Harmony for Your Home (in the Ephemeral section of Open Video Project. Also, film #347 on Prelinger Archive). [Category: Industrial]This 50s film presents a complicated system for choosing paint colors, as well as the colors of everything else in the home, so that the housewife need not rely on her own judgment and risk ending up with a room that’s not “tasteful”. All the colors presented are muted and sick-looking, but that’s the price you pay for being tasteful. That being said, the film is full of great examples of 50s furniture that any self-respecting vintage shop owner would groan over today, and which probably sells for thousands on eBay. My favorite, though, is the colored telephones (Wilbur, where are you when I need you?). Watch for a great scene of the ubiquitous 50s housewife in the film redecorating a room by simply painting over the wallpaper. And listen for lots of great lines, such as “Colorizer creates color order out of confusion,” or “Dial the color harmony of…
The Clockmaker's Dream (film #9 on More Melies (A-1 Video). Also, film #10 on The Origins of Cinema, Volume 6: Rare Films (Video Yesteryear, 1997)). [Category: Early Film & TV]He dreams of three pretty women who keep turning into clocks when he tries to get close to them. I think somebody's been working too hard. As always for Melies, though, the film is lively and creative. A 1903 Melies film.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: ***. Overall Rating: ***.